View from the Bridge: 24
by John Morrison
24: The Ego Has Landed
It's Sunday morning in Milltown, and Councillor Prattle turns on the radio. Kate Adie is filing her report from the Gulf: a sure sign that conflict cannot be far away. Conflict makes Councillor Prattle's heart beat faster; for those who give their time to local politics - freely and without thought of personal gain - it acts like an intravenous shot of testosterone.
Councillor Prattle is not the kind of man to hide his light under a bushel. Where would you find a bushel large enough? Blessed with the sallow complexion of a seventies porn star, he has a face the colour and consistency of glazier's putty. And beneath that unprepossessing exterior beats a heart of stone. Although he claims to represent the electorate, all he actually represents is himself.
For a little fish in a little pond, his self-belief is Napoleonic. Nevertheless, you could fit his talent into a small box of matches - without taking out the matches. The thought occurs: instead of pissing in the cesspool of local politics, wouldn't he be happier closeted in his bedroom, armed with a full-length mirror and a bottle of baby oil?
He has certainly perfected the art of photo-friendly posturing, and his ferocious smile leers out every week from the pages of the Milltown Times. He writes long, self-justifying letters to the paper about issues which engage the obsessive attentions of rival councillors - but nobody else. Heavy on insult, and written in yellow crayon, his rabid outpourings successfully keep common sense at arms length. The effect of this prolonged correspondence resembles nothing so much as a pack of polecats fighting over the mastery of a septic tank.
The latest issue of the Milltown Times contains an article about how Christmas seems to arrive earlier and earlier each year. Isn't it strange how this kind of article seems to appear earlier and earlier each year?
The shops have cleared out their stocks of tatty Halloween junk (memo to the manager of Milltown's supermarket: don't ready-made pumpkin lanterns rather miss the point?). The shelves are now full of tatty Christmas junk which will be on sale for half-price by Boxing Day. Postcards appear in the newsagent's window, written by opportunistic folk with stuff to sell: Artificial leg: ideal Christmas present... Two tons of dressed Yorkshire paving stones: ideal Christmas present... Yet who can deny the first stirrings of those festive feelings: an almost palpable air of avarice, sloth, greed and envy.
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